In addition to the Agricultural Worker’s Rights (and was more briefly mentioned earlier this week), other bills signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on Friday included Data Privacy For All, which CIRC said limits the personal information that can be shared with agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Immigrant Legal Defense Fund, which will set up financial resources for immigrants in the state who are in detention but can’t afford legal representation; and the creation of an Office of New Americans.
The Denver Post reports that other pro-immigrant measures already passed into law have included “repealing the use of the term ‘illegal alien’ in state statute” (words matter!), “expanding the state’s criminal extortion law to prohibit threatening to report a person’s immigration status to take advantage of them,” and legislation “allowing immigrants without documentation to apply for housing assistance.”
NBC News earlier this month hailed it as “[a]rguably the most significant measure to pass in the session.” Unfortunately, one of the voices featured in that report was Mark Krikorian, leader of Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group Center for Immigration Studies. Of course, Mark really hates the bill. Friendly reminder to Mark and all his fellow haters: Undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes every single year.
Anyway, The Denver Post said that another bill passed into law this year also included “removing lawful presence as a requirement for professional licensing.” That could make all the difference in the world for people like Monserrat Ariza, a senior studying speech language and hearing sciences at Metro State University. Licensing requirements that bar people without legal status from accessing professional licenses could block her dream of becoming a teacher. This bill can change that. “Finally, all this hard work that people have done, it’s going to be recognized and they’re going to be able to help the people they want to work with,” she told The Denver Post.
“Other bills are still waiting for the governor’s signature such as SB21-009 to provide immigrants without documentation affordable access to birth control, and HB21-1266 to inform disproportionately impacted communities of air quality problems,” the report continued. It notes the contribution of one lawmaker in particular: “Rep. Naquetta Ricks, an Aurora Democrat, is the only immigrant in the legislature this year and sponsored several of the bills, including the immigrant legal defense fund.”
Colorado is home to roughly 190,000 undocumented people. The state of Colorado has no authority to put them on a path to citizenship. Only Congress can do that—and it must. While we continue to push our legislators, more localities should follow the lead of states like Colorado and do all in their authority to protect their undocumented immigrant communities.